On Kinematic vs. Dynamic Approaches to Special Relativity

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Van Camp, Wesley
conference paper description
Janssen argues that special relativity is preferable to Lorentzian dynamics due to its kinematic structure. Brown, along with others, raises an objection, arguing that a dynamical understanding of special relativity is explanatorily prior and hence more fundamental than the principle theory-based kinematic structure of Minkowski spacetime. This paper challenges this objection, arguing that both Janssen and Brown miss the essential aspect of the principles of special relativity which underwrite its interpretational success. It is not its kinematic structure, but the constitutive nature of the principles it employs, by providing a coherent conceptual framework, which does the foundational work.